Shark-Infested Blogger

July 14, 2009 6:30 AM

Seven Players on the Trading Block

In the second chapter of what the Sharks must do to relieve their cap space, we can look at which players are most likely to be traded, in no particular order. There are seven players on the short list, and some pros and cons for each are listed:

Jonathan Cheechoo comes to mind because he signed his extension during the Richard Trophy season, but his points have fallen off from 93 that season to 69, then 37, then 29. While he did miss six, 13, and 16 games, that only suggests another reason he is a player who has past his peak.

In that time, he has fallen from the first to third line. While that fall has made him less attractive trade bait, his past scoring and reasonable $3 million contract for each of the next two years, plus his transformation into a decent checking-line forward, still make him appealing.

Christian Ehrhoff was just re-signed last summer to a five-year extension worth an average of $3.1 million per year. While the 27-year old surged to a career-high 42 points last season, he had a team-low -12 rating (Travis Moen finished -18, but was just -1 after joining the Sharks). He had no points and a -2 rating in six playoff games.

With the signing of Kent Huskins and all the other defencemen returning, Ehrhoff looks to be the odd-man out. His skating ability and asset on the offensive end do not compensate for his tendency to turn the puck over under pressure, especially when his contract is tied for third-highest in the unit.

Brad Lukowich was brought in to provide a stay-at-home defender with Stanley Cup experience, not a point-producer from the blueline. He was exactly what they expected him to be: in 58 games, he had no goals and eight assists, but was +5 with only six minor penalties (no points and +1 in six playoff games).

The problem with trading him is that he is the lowest-paid member of the blueline at $1,566,667, so he will not create as much space as anyone else. Moreover, he does provide leadership and a steady hand in the Sharks' end.

Milan Michalek is one of the Sharks most dynamic players, but he epitomizes the Sharks' struggles. In the past two seasons, he has disappeared as much as any scorer when it matters, with just five points in 19 games. In his career, he has 214 points in 317 regular season games (.675 points per game), but just 16 points in 39 post-season games (.410/game).

Moreover, the Sharks have plenty of good skaters, but lack the presence in front of the net that Milan has been unable to consistently provide. He is the perfect trade bait: 24-years old with a cap figure of $4,333,333--big enough to create room trading him, but low enough that teams will be willing to take that chance.

Patrick Marleau has long been the source of speculation regarding a trade since mid-season in 2007-08. Yours truly called for his departure last off-season, pointing out that Patty had been -26 with 56 points in 101 games from the 2007 playoffs through the 2008 playoffs.

Marleau has a no-trade clause, but Tampa Bay showed how to get around that last year with Dan Boyle: threaten to waive him if he does not waive the clause. Then he has no control over where he goes and likely ends up on one of the worst teams in the league.

Patty is scheduled to make $6.3 million and the Sharks could really use that space. I also have been convinced that the captain's quiet demeanor is not helping the Sharks passionless playoff performances.

However, since the Sharks' problem is a lack of playoff scoring, dumping the only player on the team who has scored more than a point per game in any playoff season (14 in 12 games in 2006) may not be wise. In fact, when the Sharks finished last season's playoffs, he was still best in the league in game-winning playoff goals since 2002.

Moreover, Patty has worked on his defensive game, finishing +16 last season. He also became a good penalty killer and short-handed scoring threat, getting five shorties to finish second in the league.

Douglas Murray is a stay-at-home defender who makes $2.5 million a year. It might seem sensible to trade him considering he is a rather slow skater and a liability on the offensive end (seven points in 75 games in 2008-09, and 23 points in 229 regular season and playoff games in his career). But the 29-year old is steady under pressure (+28 for his career), and by far the Sharks best hitter.

Jody Shelley would be hard to get someone to take in a trade, as he does not possess the skills of most players who earn $725,000 per year. With two goals, two assists, and a -6 rating in 70 games, he leaves much to be desired on the offensive end.

As an enforcer, he leaves almost as much to be desired. According to HockeyFights, where viewers vote for winners, Shelley finished 6-6-4 in his 16 fights in 2008-09, and that record seems generous to me.

In my next article, I will explore the teams that might be interested in any of the above players.

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